Saturday, September 1, 2018

LETHAL LEGACY by CAROL J. POST

 The author has really done an exceptional job of writing a story that is intense and delivers an intriguing plot. I liked Andi right away. She is smart and very determined. When a tragedy happens, Andi finds herself coming back to a special place that holds memories. I loved reading about the house that Andi holds close to her heart. She feels a bit nostalgic as she decides what to do with the place.

Bryce is very easy to like. He is compassionate and I think when he sees Andi again, he can feel those emotions rising in himself. He has never forgotten her even after twelve years. When danger surrounds Andi, Bryce steps up to protect her. Why is someone trying to hurt Andi? The house and land she inherited seems to pique someone's interest. Is there something valuable on the land that is worth killing for?

The story keeps at a fast pace with unexplained accidents and danger lurking everywhere. I was very impressed with the mystery surrounding her father and wanted to encourage Andi not to give up. I liked reading about the relationship that Andi and Bryce once had. Can they rekindle their romance? Bryce has his hands full trying to keep Andi safe as someone is desperate to get her off her land. Andi's dad has left subtle hints for her to find that will help her unravel the mystery that could save her life. Can she and Bryce stay one step ahead of the people who want to harm her? With danger around every corner will they trust God to keep them safe? This is one story you don't want to miss.

I received a copy of this book from the author. The review is my own opinion.
Chasing Embers FB Banner copy

About the Book

Chasing Embers
Book Title: Chasing Embers (Heart Ranch, Book 2)
Author: Rachel Skatvold
Genre: Christian Romance / Contemporary Western
Release date: August 20, 2018
ANNABELLE HART thought owning the family ranch would be everything she ever dreamed of and more. The Montana wilderness has always flowed like blood through her veins, but she can’t understand why her heart feels so empty inside.
Three years after leaving Montana to become a wild land firefighter, COLTON BROOKS still dreams about the girl he left behind at Hart Ranch. He prays for her happiness, believing she deserves someone better than him, but doubts he will ever love again.
When their paths intersect again, will the embers of their past romance be rekindled, or will an unexpected disaster change life as they know it forever?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel Skatvold Author Bio Pic (1)Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay-at-home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing inspirational romance and encouraging blogs. Rachel completed her first series, the Riley Family Legacy Novellas in 2014 and is now working on the second book in her new Hart Ranch Series. She is also a contributing author in the Whispers in Wyoming Series. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons.

Guest Post from Rachel

Chasing Embers is a sequel I have been excited to write since the release of Escaping Reality over two years ago. To be honest, while writing book one, I thought it would just be a standalone story and not part of a series. However, Logan’s strong-willed little sister, Belle, was determined to have her own story and I’m thrilled that she is finally getting one!
One of the theme verses from Chasing Embers is Ephesians 3:20, which says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” In the story, the characters go through some trials that seem impossible to overcome. In order to keep their loved ones and the ranch safe, the Hart family must cling tightly to their faith and trust that God always keeps his promises. The events of the story also serve as a reminder that God can do mighty things through us if we allow him to.
Chasing Embers is a heartwarming tale of lost love, second chances and choosing to love even when it is difficult. Be prepared to laugh, cry and rejoice with Belle and Colton as you read their love story. To find out more about Chasing Embers by Rachel Skatvold, read the summary above.


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I can remember a time when I was so in love with someone, I couldn't go a day without talking to him. We were very close and had known each other since we were kids. He moved across town, but we still managed to see each other. One day, I just felt like it was time to move on and decided we were not right for each other. Over the years, I have wondered what happened to him. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I had stayed with him.  This story is similar to what I just talked about and I was intrigued how it would turn out. 

Belle has known Colton for a long time. They fell in love, but one decision will change their lives. I loved reading about the ranch and how much Belle loves to help run it. She is a determined young woman. The author does a great job in describing the wildfires that threaten the land in Montana. I have been to Montana when I was younger and remember how beautiful it was. We have heard on the news lately about wildfires popping up in areas that endanger homes and lives. In a blink of an eye, fires can destroy everything in its path.

Colton is a firefighter and everyday seems to a life or death situation as he is on the front lines trying to contain the fires. When Belle and Colton see each other after being apart, you can feel the tension in the air. How do you try to rekindle a romance when there is still a bit of hurt between each other? The dynamics of their relationship is very powerful and I liked how Belle let God direct her path. We can drive ourselves crazy thinking about how we should have said something different, or reacted to a situation with grace instead of bitterness. 

The story is emotional at times and I thought about the decisions Belle and Colton had made that caused them to drift apart. When a tragedy occurs, will Belle and Colton be able to forgive each other? I love stories about second chances. I was given a second chance with someone when I didn't deserve it. I won't say what happens to Belle and Colton, but I will say that the author delivered a story that shows us that God is a forgiving God and there is always hope.

I want to thank firefighters who sacrifice themselves everyday to keep danger away from us. Without their bravery some of us would not be here. A big thank you to the author for a gripping story and shining a light on firefighters. 

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, August 23
Remembrancy, August 29
Texas Book-aholic, September 1
Carpe Diem, September 2
Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 4
Bigreadersite, September 4

Giveaway

e5f4939d-cd96-45de-b748-8fb15bc1a0af
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away a grand prize of a $30 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d1f3/chasing-emberscelebration-tour-giveaway

Live Pure and Free FB banner copy

About the Book9781939881168

Book Title: Live Pure and Free
Author: Dave Howe
Genre: Non-fiction devotional for men
Release date: December 1, 2017
Live Pure and Free is for men who want to win in their battle for purity. Live Pure and Free is real. It’s gritty. But most of all, it gives hope.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Howe_AB2_6042_RT (1) 1200Dave Howe is an author, speaker, musician, consultant, retreat leader, and a Regional Group Leader for Pure Desire Ministries. After fighting his own battle for purity, Dave co-founded For Men Only, a support group for men seeking freedom from sexual sin.
His prayer is that Live Pure and Free will be a game changer for men around the world as they seek their freedom in Christ.

Guest Post from Dave

This is not a fluffy book. I talk about the real things that guys in my purity group were going through in their struggles, as well as my own story. It reflects my 10 years of leading men through their journey to purity, which is only found in Christ and with God’s power.
Some of the devotions get gritty, and real. In Revelation 12:11 it says, “ And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” I wanted the reader to say to themselves, “this guy is real. He’s been through this and has overcome. If he can do it, I can do it.”
I heard one writer say that you have to have that personal connection with the reader through your honesty. “You have to bleed all over the pages.” That’s what I did.


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Some books are difficult to read because they talk about things that are uncomfortable. This may be one of those books for some, but I will say that it is powerful, transparent and life changing. Men have this need to feel like they have everything together. They hide things that they know are wrong, for fear of being judged. What the real problem is though, is called pride. Lets face it, we all sin, we all fall short, but if we don't confess our sins, we will continue to allow the enemy to draw us away from God. 

This book is geared towards men and the temptations they face. I respect the author for his candor and sharing his struggles. The book is designed as a 90 day devotional . Each day the author touches on a different subject and has a prayer at the end of the chapter as well as questions to be answered as you go through the study. Some of the questions are very specific and I encourage you to be honest as you do the exercises . 

It was interesting to read about one man who went to a purity class at a different church from where he attended. I felt compassion as it was explained that he was afraid of what his own church would think if they knew what he was struggling with. When will we as the body of Christ stop judging and help each other out? We need to stop pointing fingers, and help those who need support. 

One of the best points the author makes is finding an accountability partner. It is so important to have someone stand with you, encourage you and pray for you. We aren't meant to be alone in out struggles. The book is well written and is meant to encourage men and help them as they overcome their struggles with things that are not of God. 

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, September 1
Mary Hake, September 2
A Reader’s Brain, September 3
Creating Romance, September 4
Artistic Nobody, September 5 (Spotlight)
Reading is my Super Power, September 7 (Interview)
Carpe Diem, September 8
Bigreadersite, September 10
Power of Words, September 11 (Spotlight)
Janices book reviews, September 12
margaret kazmierczak, September 13 (Interview)
Just the Write Escape, September 14

Giveaway

2b2ec676-46bb-4388-9806-2754fee34350
To celebrate his tour, Dave is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Peet’s Coffee Gift Card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d4ce/live-pure-and-free-celebration-tour-giveaway

Friday, August 31, 2018

FIT TO BE TIED by DEBBY MAYNE

Oh my I so much love the southern flair of this book. There is so much to like as the characters jump off the pages. I love how the author has each chapter dedicated to a certain character. This concept gives readers a chance to really know each character better. Some of you may ask who my favorite character was. I have to say all of them, because each character knits the story together. It's like in the bible where there are teachers, prophets etc. They are all needed to make things work as one. We work better when we are surrounded by others. Dare I  say we fit together like a family.

The book is focused on  the big family reunion coming up.  I know when I was growing up if anyone ever mentioned   a family reunion no one would show up. The Bucklin family is one I which I had been a part of. The big day is fast approaching and I loved reading about who was going to be invited to the big party.

I enjoyed reading about Sara and Sally; the twins,  and their bow business. Little girls love to have pretty bows in their hair and the business is booming with orders. What mom wouldn't want a special bow made just for their daughter? It would drive me crazy to make them, but it seems to keep the twins thriving in their job. I love how close they are, but how long will they continue to share a condo now that one of them is married? It reminds me of the saying, "Twos company, threes a crowd."

The author has a beautiful way of writing that emphasizes the importance of family. I couldn't wait for the big reunion to happen. Every year there is always something that goes wrong at the reunion. The author has written a story that makes you feel right at home with the Bucklin family. I would love to chat with Sara and Sally as their mother fuses over them even though they are grown.  As in every family there is always someone who is jealous of another, someone bragging about their life and shenanigans galore as the family gathers for what promises to be an unforgettable reunion.  This is a great book with lots of surprises and a reminder that family is important.

I received a copy of this book from Gilead Publishing. The review is my own opinion.






















Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction. She is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas and more than 1,000 short stories. She and her husband live in Charleston, South Carolina. You can find out more at www.debbymayne.net.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

MONSTROUS BEAUTY BY CAROL E. KEEN BOOK BLAST
PRESENTED BY CELEBRATE LIT

A damaged man. A strange young woman. Secrets that can bring them together, or tear them apart. 

"This is perfect for girls of all ages. There are valuable lessons throughout the story and the author makes sure to point the readers towards God."

Ethan's father did a number on him, to say the least. In his passing, he left Ethan a wealthy man, but a severely damaged one. More than one person has considered him to be "beastly". Annabelle is unique and could be his only chance at love, but she has secrets of her own. Can they achieve true forgiveness before their world collapses? 

"My entire world got zoned out as I fell into the enchanting world of Ethan (the beast) and Annabelle (the beauty) and wow, I was just swept away! I LOVED how the relationship gradually grew..."

"If you love fairy-tales then you will love The Beauty Series!! I highly recommend these books to anyone!! The Beast here is a selfless hero and the villain(s) were quite a surprise."

"I don't want to spoil anything, so I will just say that I love the reason why Ethan is a 'beast' and that whole backstory was gripping. And I was cheering for these two, with the clever obstacles that kept coming up. If you are looking for a lovely romance story, you'll love this."




Carol E. Keen enjoys fresh coffee, hot tea, and a good book. She was published for several years in FAMA magazine (Freshwater And Marine Aquarium) as a contributing editor. She published her first book on CD, called Simply Seahorses.

She is the author of The Beauty Series and The Corandira Station, to name a few of her works. She currently resides in the South with her husband and family and spends her time writing, reading, working in photography, and being with her much loved critters.

Purchase link:
https://amzn.to/2snpz2f


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The description on the back cover is very accurate. It is a retelling of "The Beauty and the Beast." It is a short book packed with lots of nuggets that remind us that beauty is only skin deep. It is true that many of us have scars no one can see. Ethan is very private and almost detached from the world. We know from reading the book he has physical scars. Those scars turn heads and frighten people. As I read the part about Ethan I thought about a man I saw recently. He  was severely burned on part of his face and arms. Our eyes locked as we passed each other in the store. My heart was overwhelmed with the pain he has endured.  For that brief moment as we looked as each other, God reminded me to look past the scars and see the scars on his heart. Not only did he have physical scars but emotional  scars that for some reason God allowed me to feel. Ethan is much like the man I saw in the store. He was hurting inside but no one really thought about it. People were afraid of him because he looked different.

Annabelle was a beautiful woman but underneath her beauty, was the scars no one could see. I was outraged at how her family treated her . The author eludes to an incident that happened between Annabelle and a young man. I didn't quite understand how it ruined Annabelle's reputation and wanted the author to explore it in more detail. Her banishment from her home was sudden and I knew just where she would end up. It was predictable but I still took away valuable lessons from the story. We judge people by looks and we push people aside when they are emotionally damaged. I enjoyed the book, but felt there were a few things missing from the story which would have made the characters easier to understand. I do love the author's writing but this one fell a bit short for me.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.


The Struggle is Real FB Banner copy

About the Book

Title: The Struggle is RealThe Struggle is Real cover
Author: Nicole Unice
Genre: Non-fiction, Christian life, spiritual Growth
Release date: August 21, 2018
“It just shouldn’t be this hard!”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a day where everything that could go wrong does go wrong—you lock your keys in the car while it’s running, lose control with your kids, make a mistake at the office that results in hours more work. And just when you think not one more thing could possibly happen . . . well, fill in the blank.
The struggle is real, friends. It may not be major stuff. Lives are not on the line here. But it makes us feel awful . . . and then we feel guilty for stressing when other people have “real” problems that are so much more serious.
Yet the fact remains: We live in a world that often feels harder than we think it should be. And so it can be easy to believe the stories we tell ourselves—that we’re doing it wrong, that we’ll be stuck in this place forever, that God doesn’t love us. We struggle to practice gratitude, to make godly choices, and to live our daily lives with confidence and contentment. So what can we do?
Join popular Bible teacher and counselor Nicole Unice to discover why the struggle is real . . . and what to do about it. Nicole offers practical tools to help you navigate the daily ups and downs, and ways to rewrite your struggle into a new, God-centered life story. The Struggle Is Real is an invitation to take the hard, hurtful, and confusing moments and turn them into opportunities to grow in wisdom, strength, and joy.


About the Author

Nicole UniceNicole Unice is a Bible teacher, author, and passionate communicator who delights in bringing God’s Word to life in a personal and relevant way. Her training as a counselor informs her work, as she emphasizes the importance of facing our own reality and embracing the transforming power of God’s grace.
Her heart belongs to Hope Church in Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as ministry director, leading discipleship and Praxis, a full-time ministry residency program for young leaders. In addition, Nicole co-hosts Hope Cast, a podcast on spiritual formation, leadership, and relationships.
Nicole’s invitations to speak have taken her across the world, and her books come to life through her popular video curriculum series found on RightNow Media. Her first book, She’s Got Issues, released in May 2012 and speaks to a fundamental question of faith: Is being a Christian supposed to change me? Also available is a companion curriculum, She’s Got Issues DVD Group Experience, a six-session journey that includes interviews, questions, and teaching expanding on the book. Her subsequent titles—Brave Enough and The Struggle Is Real—help people distill the complicated stuff of life into a simple and clear path to Jesus.
Nicole holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She loves creating a space for ministry and spiritual formation in the everyday rhythms of life with three children, two pups, one husband, and a whole community of twentysomethings who regularly raid her fridge.
Nicole is known for making friends in all corners of the world, especially via social media. Connect with her on Instagram, YouTube, or at nicoleunice.com—and hopefully face-to-face at one of her upcoming events.

Guest Post from Nicole Unice

There’s a question we throw around that I bet means a whole lot more than we would expect. How many times a week—or a day!–are you asked:
How are you?”
I don’t know about you, but the answer I hear and give the most is something like …. ”fine”, or —“busy but good!”? It’s kind of the socially acceptable answer, right?
A friend asked me this question just this week as I walked into work. I was multitasking as usual while knee deep into a cell phone conversation about yet another problem. I didn’t answer her, because if I did—if I really stopped and answered—I might have started crying, right there on the spot. My lips formed the word “fine” when in reality, I was anything but—at least not in that moment. And life doesn’t always stop long enough to give a real answer….
But isn’t “fine” the socially accepted answer because it works….or does it?
The reality is, we are all struggling, to different degrees and complexity levels, each and every day. The Struggle IS Real, and when you add up both the little and big daily struggles, it’s easy to understand why this hashtag social media rockstar exists—over 3 million deep at #thestruggleisreal.
But if we dig a little deeper into this common complaint, we might discover a much more sinister root—and real help toward freedom and wisdom in Christ.
In my newest book, The Struggle is Real, that’s what I’ve done. I address issues like:

  • Life is much harder than I thought it would be, and I feel bad saying it.
  • There are some things about myself that I can’t change…it’s just how I am, and it frustrates me.
  • I really don’t know if God is interested in my life, and even if He is, I don’t know how to hear from Him.

(and if you are wondering how real your struggle is, I’ve included a Good Life Inventory on p. 14!)
I wrote this book because I know how real the struggle truly is—and I want us to discover the true source of the answer to these age-old problems. My hope is to take my readers through a journey into this gap between our “just fine” lives and the truly good lives we are seeking and are hungry for. To offer hope that we can live the best life we can, this side of heaven.
Yep, the struggle is definitely real. But the struggle can also start the story. It can motivate us to rewrite our lives into a new story. The struggles can lead us to a new source of hope and freedom, and somehow, even the worst of life can become a place of strength and growth. The struggle is real. And the struggle can be good.


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What a day I have had. The washer goes out, my son needs money, and the house is a mess. I go to the store and am focused on getting what I need and getting home. I had to laugh as I started the book because I am that person where everything goes wrong at once. It is like an avalanche that won't stop. Do you really think I want to chat with the cashier at the store? The lady was polite and asked the dreaded question, "How are you?" Now I wanted to say , "Since you asked, my day is going down hill fast. I am at the end of my rope and if one more thing happens I will scream." Of course I smiled and said what everyone says, "I'm fine."  We do this because we don't want to share and we want everyone to think we have it all together.

I'm pretty sure the author had me in mind when she wrote this book.  I do feel alone and empty inside. I appreciate how open the author is with her own  struggles. I can understand her frustration at the carpool lane. I found it ironic that she was on the phone explaining to someone about grace while berating the poor lady directing the traffic. The not so funny part of this story is that we can all relate to her. I believe God places us in situations to show us where we lack grace, forgiveness and compassion. 

We all get to make choices in how we handle things. I choose to keep everything inside, shut out the world and suffer silently. That certainly isn't what God wants for me. He wants me to come to Him, trust Him and have a relationship with Him. Of course we will have struggles, but if we continue to shut Him out we are going to dig the hole deeper. " The greatest challenge in life will be the challenge of choice." 

I liked how the author speaks from her heart and talks about subjects that can help heal you from emotional pain. It is true that I don't have any really close friends. I have been like that my entire life. There is a boundary that I won't allow people to wander into to get close to me. I know it's about trust and I struggle with that a lot. When the author talked about having a relationship with God but still struggle with bitterness , anger and other emotions that keep me bound up I knew what was coming next. How can I be growing in my relationship with God, if I still struggle with the very things He wants to heal me from? As adults we seem to think we have it all together and fool ourselves and those around us into believing we are happy. The author makes good points about having a real relationship with God. I sure want that and I tell myself I am a work in progress. 

We struggle with things everyday, but if we allow ourselves to stay there and let them pile up on us, we are missing out on the joy that God has for us. The concept that God loves us unconditionally blows my mind sometimes. How can He love someone like me who lives on the edge and feels like jumping off ? The good news is that "He will never leave us, nor forsake us." I love that scripture and know with all my heart that there is someone near who watches over me and loves me so deep that I may never comprehend how much. The one thing I took away from this book the most was how important our relationship with God is. He desires to talk to us and for us to spend time in His word. 

The author includes a section at the end of every chapter called. "Keeping It Real." I encourage readers to participate in the questions which help you better understand the chapter and also dig deep into yourself. We all struggle with everyday life, but some of us have struggled for years from trauma, hurt, loss and other things. The book has helped me to look at my relationship with God and realize that  I still have a barrier up. We will always have some kind of struggle, but how we deal with it can make the difference between staying in a place of bitterness, or coming through it with joy and a deeper relationship with God and others. It's time for us to reach out to each other and be the hands and feet God called us to be.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, August 28
All-of-a-kind Mom, August 29
Carpe Diem, August 30
Multifarious, August 31
Janices book reviews, September 1
Inklings and Notions, September 2
Book by Book, September 3
Mary Hake, September 3
Margaret Kazmierczak, September 5
Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 6
Godly Book Reviews, September 7
Bigreadersite, September 7

Giveaway

9138bfbb-b4a6-4808-a026-99dce89f9cfb
To celebrate her tour, Nicole is giving away a grand prize of a “The Struggle is Real” T-Shirt!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d19c/the-struggle-is-real-celebration-tour-giveaway

Sunday, August 26, 2018


For interview information, contact:

Audra Jennings, Publicist
903.874.8363 – ajenningspr@gmail.com

Story makes the world go ‘round
The stories of Amish and Mennonite women in their own words

Harrisonburg, VA — Behind Amish romance novels, tourist spots and “reality” TV shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. Every Amish and Mennonite woman has a story. What would it be like to be welcomed into their homes and share those stories over a cup of coffee?

In the pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words (Herald Press/ August 7, 2018/ISBN: 978-1-5138-0316-6/$15.99), Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while the reader sits in. The book’s editor, Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings and authentic perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God from Anabaptist women’s periodicals. Among the stories shared are essays penned by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.

Craker, who describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies, grew up in Manitoba where the Mennonite community was large. Her mother’s family came from Ukraine in the 1870’s and were pioneers who homesteaded on the prairies. Her father’s family arrived in Canada after World War II when they fled Stalin and his holocaust. She knew from early on there were lots of different kinds of Mennonite stories, but she never realized there was anything “different” about the way she grew up until she arrived in Chicago for college. “Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being my kind of Mennonite were one and the same. This assumption led to lots of explanations on my part about the difference between my modern Mennonite upbringing (‘like Baptist, with a German accent and special foods’) and those other related subcultures.”

Explaining the differences would eventually lead to Craker to writing her first book on the Amish where she learned for all the differences, there were many more similarities than she expected there to be. While visiting the Amish, she found a peace and gentleness that reminded her of home. As she compiled the stories for Homespun, those same feelings and many more came to the surface. “These narratives stirred different emotions in me. My heart ached for Ervina Yoder as she described what it was like for her to be the mother of a longed-for but stillborn baby. I was inspired and encouraged by Danielle Beiler’s trust in God as her provider, and I giggled at Mary Yoder’s secondhand testimony of an Amish man whose pants were just too stretchy. Other essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church. My cup had been filled.”

As Craker searched for stories to include, several themes revealed themselves. She organized the book into sections delving into the themes and introduces each section with some of the lessons she took away from the women who wrote the stories.
  • Welcome. A deep sense of hospitality is fundamental to these women. Yet it’s not hospitality in the HGTV, your-house-needs-to-be-perfect kind of way.
  • Abide. They want to abide in an abode, if you will, that nurtures them and feeds their spirit. The writers here expound beautifully on what home means to them.
  • Testimony. Story makes the world go ’round. When we hear the stories—the testimonies—of others, we are better able to understand our own story and our place in the world.
  • Wonder. The blazing faith of early Anabaptists is evident in the openness of these writers to all things wondrous. These are true stories of miracles, phenomenal happenings that don’t make sense from a human perspective.
  • Kindred. A core value of both Mennonites and Amish is the preeminence of family—kinfolk, whether they be kindred or not. Our kin shape us in ways both known and unknown, good and bad.
  • Beloved. There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even in doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters “beloved.”

Craker hopes that readers will enjoy the stories as much as she did. “You don’t have to be a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies to do so. All you need to do is open your heart and let the homespun words of these women enlarge your worldview, extend your heart, and increase your friendship with the Creator of all good and gut things.”
About the Editor

Lorilee Craker is the editor of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words. She describes herself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies and didn’t know there was anything “peculiar” about being Mennonite until she moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Chicago, Illinois for college. It was then that she realized most people outside of Mennonite communities assumed she had come from buggy-driving, bonnet-wearing, butter-churning folk. Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being her kind of Mennonite were one and the same. The experience of explaining the differences led her to writing the book, Money Secrets of the Amish (an Audie Awards finalist which she also narrated).

A freelance journalist, blogger and speaker, Craker was an entertainment writer for The Grand Rapids Press for seventeen years. She has been featured in many media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Time and People. She is the author of fifteen books, including Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me, My Journey to Heaven with Marv Besteman, and the New York Times bestseller Through the Story with Lynne Spears.

The proud founder of a writing day camp for middle schoolers, Craker lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her husband and their three children.

Learn more about Lorilee Craker online at lorileecraker.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@LorileeCraker), Twitter (@lorileecraker) and Instagram (@thebooksellersdaughter).

Advance Praise

A revealing and wide ranging resource. . . . This eclectic book will interest any reader who’s curious about the plain lifestyle."
~ Publishers Weekly

Homespun reads like a leisurely visit with an old friend. It starts off with light, chatty topics before settling into the-deep-part-of-the-heart experiences, such as a young mom recovering from the stillborn birth of her little boy. At times charming and humorous, at other times profound and heavy, this collection of true stories will linger in your mind long after you close the book.”
~ Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of Amish Peace




Review.jpg

I have been looking forward to reading this book as soon as I heard about it. Opening the book to start reading, I felt this overwhelming peace and comfort come over me. The stories each woman shares is one of hospitality, peace and kindness. I loved how one woman said how important it is to make your guests feel welcome in your home. They should feel comfortable and at ease when they talk  with you. I can remember a time when my husband and  I visited  people that we had become acquainted with from church. Their home was lovely, but I felt a sense of uneasiness there. The couple was polite, but I soon learned they were asked by the pastor to find out what they could about us because we were new to the church.  I was quite upset that I was being interviewed by this couple to see if my family fit the church. Reading this book has helped me to forgive that situation and to know that there are genuine people out there who welcome fellowship in their homes. They have no agenda; only a desire to share their home and make each person feel welcome.

I loved reading about family meals. It is a much treasured gathering where everyone comes together, prays and shares stories of their days. I'm afraid that doesn't happen much in homes today. We live in the fast lane, where meals are rushed and some of the family members are absent. We take our family for granted and disconnect happens. "Slowing down and savoring life together over a shared meal is a ritual to treasure."  That statement really opened my eyes. How many meals have I shared with my family at the dinner table in the last month?  We are missing out on so much by allowing ourselves to become too busy with life and forget the importance of family.

Each story shared in the book gives us a glimpse into the hearts of women just like us. They share joy, sadness and forgiveness as they open their hearts to spread kindness and stories that feel us with hope. I felt like I was sitting in each woman's home enjoying homemade goodies as we chatted about our lives. They were open and honest and each one expressed their deep faith in God. Family is very important to them and it is evident in each story as their hearts are full of love and contentment. 

One of the stories that really touched me was about holidays. I do not like holidays at all. I dread them every year. When my children were younger, I would put on a happy face, watch them open presents and be thankful to God that I can make holidays good for my children. I grew up in a very violent and abusive home. My parents told me they hated me on a daily basis. When Christmas came every year, I had to sit and watch my brothers open their enormous amount of presents while I received none. I cried in my room begging for someone to love me. I wanted a doll and a stuff animal so bad. I never got them, but this story in the book reminded me of how I should move forward. My past was something I went through, but I can choose to make the holidays cheerful. "Jesus came to redeem. Allow God to give you joy. Keep your heart open for it, for pain increases the heart's capacity to receive joy." 

Thank you to each person that shared their story. It has brought me a smile, tears of healing and an understanding that God is gracious and loves us unconditionally. I encourage everyone to grab a copy of this book and spend time with women who love with their whole heart, who welcome visitors into their home with joy, and lift each other up in times of hurt.

I received a copy of this book from Read with Audra Tour and the publisher. The review is my own opinion.







An interview with Lorilee Craker,
Author of Homespun


Behind Amish romance novels, tourist spots and “reality” TV shows stand real people, with longings and loves just like the rest of us. Every Amish and Mennonite woman has a story. What would it be like to be welcomed into their homes and share those stories over a cup of coffee?


In the pages of Homespun: Amish and Mennonite Women in Their Own Words (Herald Press), Amish and Plain Mennonite women swap stories and spin yarns while the reader sits in. The book’s editor, Lorilee Craker, bestselling author of Money Secrets of the Amish, collected these personal writings and authentic perspectives on life, hospitality, home, grief, joy, and walks with God from Anabaptist women’s periodicals. Among the stories shared are essays penned by well-loved Amish and Mennonite writers such as Sherry Gore, Linda Byler, Lovina Eicher, Dorcas Smucker, and Sheila Petre.


Q: You describe yourself as a simple Mennonite girl from the prairies. Can you share a little bit about your childhood?


My childhood was deeply rooted in the Mennonite culture. Growing up, I witnessed my two grandmothers with their hair in a bun and always wearing dresses or skirts. I thought this was normal! None of my grandparents spoke English—all four of them spoke German or Low German. At family gatherings we would eat Mennonite food such as borscht, varaneki (pierogies), platz (fruit strudel), and pluma moos (cold plum soup). We also ate those things in my home, so again, this was all very normal. We were also bound by similar values of faith and peace, and by stories of where we had come from.


Q: Your family’s roots in Mennonite communities run deep, but your family history is an example of the many different stories people have. Can you tell about both your mother and father’s background?


My mother’s family came over from Ukraine in the 1870’s. They were pioneers who homesteaded on the prairies, but they never lost their culture or assimilated too much into the broader community. The ties of language, food, and culture that bind them to their pioneer great-great-grandparents are startlingly durable.


My dad’s family had a completely different story. They came in the third wave of immigration from Ukraine, after World War II. They fled Stalin as refugees and experienced his holocaust. My dad lost his twin sister to starvation, so those stories were imprinted painfully on his heart.


I knew from early on that there were lots of different kinds of Mennonite stories.


Q: Growing up in Manitoba where there was a large Mennonite population, you didn’t realize most people didn’t live the same way you did. What was the biggest adjustment for you when you moved to Chicago for college?


The biggest adjustment was that no one seemed to know what a Mennonite was, or they assumed that I should be wearing a bonnet and driving a buggy like the Amish! Everyone seemed to think that being Amish or Old Order Mennonite and being my kind of Mennonite were one and the same. This assumption led to lots of explanations on my part about the difference between my modern Mennonite upbringing (“like Baptist, with a German accent and special foods”) and those other related subcultures.


People were surprised that I wore makeup and nail polish, etc. In Winnipeg, people knew that Mennonite women were modern because they knew so many of them. That wasn’t the case in Chicago.


Q: Explaining how you were Mennonite, not Amish, eventually led to you writing your previous book, Money Secrets of the Amish. What did you learn in that process that made you feel more connected to what your roots?


As I visited Amish homes and barns in Michigan and Pennsylvania for my 2011 book, I recognized bits of their dialect, Deitsch (Pennsylvania German), from my spotty grasp of Low German. Their baby naming customs were also similar. The Amish women’s hair buns and long skirts, not to mention the tantalizing aromas of fruit strudels (Platz, to me) baking in their ovens, reminded me of my beloved grandma Loewen. I recalled my little dynamo of an Oma (grandmother) tsk-tsk-ing me about the length of my skirt. She always had a twinkle in her eye as she chided me, but I still made sure to go for full coverage as I interviewed the Amish.


The peace and gentleness I felt when visiting the Amish reminded me so much of visiting my Grandma’s farm. I felt oddly at home among my spiritual and cultural cousins. It was amazing to me that over 300 years had passed since our break up and we still had things in common! I came to realize were more closely tied to me and my upbringing than I had ever dreamed.


Q: What are some of the differences between Mennonite and Amish beliefs? What are the biggest similarities?


While there is a great variety of Mennonite culture, practices and lifestyles, from very old-fashioned to very modern and even progressive, the Amish are much more the same across their communities. They are extremely dedicated to living much like they did in 1693, when they split off from the Mennonites over the matter of buttons. Mennonites were okay with buttons, but tailor Jacob Amman’s followers, the Amish, thought they were worldly. To this day Amish fasten their clothes without buttons.


The similarities lie in spiritual roots of being peace-loving, set apart people with a radical faith. The most modern Mennonite in downtown Winnipeg might name their children Isaiah, Ezra, and Naomi, and the most conservative Amish will have children with those same Bible names. They have both kept some remnant of their dialect—Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch which is really Deutsch—German. I was startled to recognize bits of the Amish dialect as being similar to my own Platt Deutsch—low German. Foods are similar sometimes, too. And food customs, like Faspa, which is a cold meal served on Sunday late afternoon so the ladies wouldn’t have to cook on Sunday.


Q: What was the inspiration behind your new book, Homespun? How did you collect the stories included in the book?


Herald Press approached me about being the general editor of a collection of writings from Amish and Mennonite women. I collected the stories from mainly two sources, Daughters of Promise magazine, a beautiful and beautifully written literary journal done by conservative Mennonite women, and Ladies Journal, a much more spare periodical by Amish women.


It was thrilling for me to discover new writers and incredible writing from mostly unknown writers! These women have a lot to say and I was fascinated by their take on modern life. To hear from women specifically appealed to me, as a feminist. Sometimes in conservative subcultures, their voices are silenced or muted. This book gives them space and grace to speak.


Q: What themes did you notice emerging as started compiling the stories? How is Homespun organized?


As I read stories for the book, a number of themes arose, so I arranged the stories by those topics and wrote a brief introduction tying them together.


Welcome. A deep sense of hospitality is fundamental to these women. Yet it’s not hospitality in the HGTV, your-house-needs-to-be-perfect kind of way. As one of the writers shares, it is easy to overthink hosting, but Jesus made it look quite simple, and his hosting style can be described in one word: love.


Abide. Hospitality is sacred and spiritual, but it doesn’t mean these writers don’t want to have an appealing home space in which to dwell. They want to abide in an abode, if you will, that nurtures them and feeds their spirit. The writers here expound beautifully on what home means to them.


Testimony. Story makes the world go round. When we hear the stories—the testimonies—of others, we are better able to understand our own story and our place in the world. These narratives stirred different emotions in me.


Wonder. The blazing faith of early Anabaptists is evident in the openness of these writers to all things wondrous. These are true stories of miracles, phenomenal happenings that don’t make sense from a human perspective. They highlight the possibility of the miraculous happening all around us, in big ways and small.


Kindred. A core value of both Mennonites and Amish is the preeminence of family—kinfolk, whether they be kindred or not. Our kin shape us in ways both known and unknown, good and bad. These essays and stories speak to the tremendous influence of family.


Beloved. These essays enthused my soul, and I came away feeling as if I had just been to church. My cup had been filled. There is something wonderfully elemental and childlike about the devotion expressed here, devotion even in doubt. These pieces drew me closer to the One who calls all his daughters “beloved.”


Q: In what ways were you challenged to rethink your concept of welcome and hospitality?


In our HGTV era, we can begin to believe that hospitality equals a perfectly renovated and decorated space. I love all that stuff, and that’s great, but these writers helped me get back to the true meaning of opening your home to others. I had just bought this table set for my patio, but all summer had hosted only one time. Why? Because of the weeds! Meanwhile, I could have blessed my guests all summer. These essays helped me get back to the idea of lengthening the table, not caring as much if things were “perfect.”


Q: The advice in the abide section varies from painting your home bright colors to reflect yourself to having plenty of white space. However, decorating tips really aren’t the point. How does the section on abide differ from hospitality?


Hospitality is about opening your home to others, while the act of dwelling is different. How do we create a nest that nurtures and shelters us? Bethany Hege’s piece called “White Space” is one of the loveliest pieces in the book and one of the most insightful things I have ever read on the topic of home d├ęcor and design. “Keep it simple but keep it significant,” she writes. Her words really challenged me to do just that. For example, I framed an 8 x 10 print which reads, “Cheap Like Borscht,” a saying known to Russian Mennonites and something my dad would always say. Every year, I make sure and buy gladioli because they were my Grandma’s favorite flowers. I hung a large photo of a field with flax and canola—the two crops my Grandpa farmed—over my fireplace. To me, I am keeping things simple but significant.


Q: All of the stories in Homespun could actually fall under the category of testimony, but how do the stories in that section stand out among the others?


“The Lord is My Rock” profoundly moved me. Ervina Yoder tells about giving birth to her stillborn son. “I go to the grocery store and no one knows I’m a mommy,” she writes. Every time I read that I get chills of sorrow. Yet her faith also gives me chills.


Q: Can you share one of the modern-day miracle stories included in the book?


Danielle Beiler’s “When You put Your Money in God’s Bank Account” is one of my favorite pieces in the book. It’s a very detailed journal, really, of God’s provision for her day to day. I love how she never ran out of gas, no matter how low her tank got. It reminds me of manna from Heaven, except in this case manna was fuel!


Q: How is the preeminence of family different among the Mennonites and Amish versus those in other communities?


I think the biggest thing is our shared experiences. We are the “peculiar people,” an ethnic subculture with no homeland (so people don’t think we are an ethnicity) with a shared history of terrible suffering (especially the Russian Mennonites, the most recent wave of immigration from Ukraine who still have family members who remember living in Stalinist Russia). Those shared experiences set us apart and make our families close knit because we understand each other in a way no one else does.
Q: What does it mean to be one of God’s beloved? How do the stories reflect that belonging?


These women have a deep, radial faith that spreads so much light. This was the hardest section from which to choose because there were so many moving pieces. “Rebuilding from the Shambles of Shame,” for example, is profound. She compares the process of rising up out of shame to restoring a crumbling old house. Often while reading these pieces I felt stirred and uplifted.


Q: What do you ultimately hope readers will gain from reading Homespun?


I hope they will find a pocket of peace and gentle witness in their hectic, modern lives. These women have a countercultural, singular mindset that is refreshingly different. I hope our readers will see their own stories in a new, Homespun light!


Learn more about Lorilee Craker online at lorileecraker.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@LorileeCraker), Twitter (@lorileecraker) and Instagram (@thebooksellersdaughter).